Chicago Cubs chariman Tom Ricketts is entering professional soccer, as he has purchased majority ownership of an upcoming USL Chicago club.
The USL Chicago team is slated to begin play in the coming years at a 20,000-seat stadium slated for Chicago’s Lincoln Yards development. Developer Sterling Bay has been working on the stadium concept, which includes plans to bring a USL franchise into the venue. (Sister site Soccer Stadium Digest has more on the stadium and Lincoln Yards.)
Sterling Bay’s involvement in the project will include development and ownership of the stadium, along with a minority ownership stake in the team. The Ricketts family trust has owned the Cubs since 2009, and there have been plenty of highlights under its watch. On the field, the Cubs captured the World Series title in 2016, their first since 1908. Off the field, Wrigley Field is undergoing continual renovations that have helped modernize fan and player amenities at Major League Baseball’s second-oldest ballpark.
“My family is very excited at the prospect of bringing professional USL soccer to Chicago at this terrific new development,” Ricketts said in a press statement. “Sterling Bay is a tremendous partner and the USL has a great vision for meeting the demands of passionate fans and growing soccer’s fan base.”
“We couldn’t be more excited to be working with the Ricketts family to bring this project to life,” Andy Gloor, Sterling Bay’s managing principal said in a press statement. “With their deep expertise in sports franchising, the Ricketts are an ideal partner for us to collaborate with and energize Chicago sports fans with a new local team to rally around.”
There is a fairly established link between professional baseball and the Division II USL, including examples of USL and Minor League Baseball teams playing out of the same facility. That connection between the two sports is only strengthened by Ricketts’ majority ownership in the upcoming Chicago club, as it allows the USL to add a big name from MLB circles.
“It speaks volumes about the growth of the USL when you continue to see interest and investment from proven sports business executives like Tom Ricketts,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said in a press statement. “Over the last several years, we have assembled one of the most sophisticated and knowledgeable ownership groups in professional sports, drawn by our focus on building a sustainable, stable and professional organization with significant room for future growth. We welcome Tom and the entire Ricketts family to the USL. They bring a proven record of success to the team, and combined with the excellent group at Sterling Bay, we look forward to their contributions to the future of professional soccer in Chicago.”
Rendering courtesy Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.